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The Best Stories of the North Wilkesboro Speedway Moonshine Cave

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What’s Happening?

While working on repairing the front stretch grandstands at North Wilkesboro Speedway, something incredible was unveiled. A potential moonshine cave was discovered underneath the grandstands, seemingly confirming rumors, myths, and legends long told in Wilkes County.

  • Moonshining is a huge part of the early history of both NASCAR and North Wilkesboro Speedway. There is plenty of overlap between moonshine and motorsports throughout the mid-20th century.
  • While it is not confirmed that there was a moonshine still in this location, Senior Vice President of Development at Speedway Motorsports, Steve Swift, called the place “Perfect” to make the bootleg liquor. In a place like Wilkes County, it only makes sense.
  • This treasure found underneath the grandstands at North Wilkesboro Speedway enamored fans, both older fans who heard the story and younger fans who love learning about the history of the sport.

NASCAR and Wilkes County’s History of Moonshine and Motorsports

It’s quite easy to say that NASCAR would probably never exist without moonshine. Moonshine was a popular form of illegal liquor during prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, but, even after prohibition, bootleggers still made it.

Making the liquor was just half the battle, and with the introduction of the automobile, moonshiners got creative with setting up their cars to outrun the law. This was especially popular throughout the Southeast at this time. NASCAR was born largely from these criminals and their modified race cars trying to compete against each other on local short tracks like North Wilkesboro.

Last summer, Eric Estepp took a trip down the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail, and he explored some of the sites where moonshine runners slipped away from the through the windy mountain roads of North Carolina. One such site was Stone Mountain State Park, which can be viewed in the video below.

Perhaps the most famous of these individuals was the late Junior Johnson. A Wilkes County native and the son of a bootlegger, Johnson is referred to as “The Last American Hero”. He spent a year in prison for possessing an illegal still, and he won 50 Cup Series races as a driver along with 6 Championships as a team owner.

Wilkes County has quite a history with both motorsports and moonshine, which made the rumors of a moonshine cave all the more believable. Now, it just may be a very real thing.

What an incredible find at North Wilkesboro Speedway, and a terrific piece of North Carolina history. One can only wonder what went down under the grandstands back in the day.

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